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aftermarket audio upgrade

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Flyguy, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Flyguy

    Flyguy Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2017
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    94062
    After reading through a bunch of custom stereo install threads it became pretty clear to me that I could do an aftermarket upgrade that was better and cheaper than the Tesla premium sound system which I was underwhelmed by when I briefly took a listen in the showroom. For me adding more speakers has never been an improvement to car audio. Up until my 2017 Model S75 (August build) I’ve always installed an aftermarket system myself that consists of some decent component speakers up front and a 10” sub, both amplified.

    For my new MS I decided to source the components myself and have it installed locally. I live in Redwood city and fortunately, there is a local shop who has experience with Teslas and has been doing custom installs for many years, car audio specialties. The same shop also did the tinting and did an excellent job for a very reasonable price. I spent about $2,400 for all components and installation. I made a few mistakes so if you decide to go this route you can get it done for about $1,700. My first mistake was buying the NVX sub kit and getting it installed without thinking through the rest of the system. The NVX kit comes with the LC2i which is a great little line level converter, but it has no aux input. I decided if I was going to do an upgrade, it had to have an auxiliary input capacity. Hence I bought the AudioControl LC8i, which comes with an aux input and the ability to toggle between the tesla stereo or directly from another source (my iphone) directly to the amps. Side note: I subtract one whole star from the MS for what Tesla has done around audio. It is ridiculous that there is not aux input in the stock HU, not to mention how bad the processing is, etc. the other mistake was I decided after the matter that I wanted to amplify the component speakers I installed in the front, so I wound up having to buy two amps when I could have run the whole system off of one (the JAD 800.4). Anyway, the current system has the NVX sub in the back powered by the 600w amp it came with and a set of Hertz HSK165 component speakers (separate mid/tweeter w/crossover) in the front powered by the NVX JAD 800.4 (125w/channel into 4ohm). I had the stock signal to the front speakers (fortunately it is a full range signal) go to the LC8i which is then sent to the JAD 800.4 to power the Hertz speakers up front and also send a signal back to the sub. There is a dial that comes with the LC8i that is installed in the center console that allows me to adjust the bass from the sub. If you press the dial it switches to the aux input and becomes the volume control for aux. if you press it again you can adjust the bass from the sub for the aux input.

    Here are some quirks/questions answered:

    When playing from aux the front center channel speaker still plays off of the HU (head unit) so you need to turn the volume down, or disconnect the center channel. I have not disconnected it because I am not sure if any warning chimes will come through the center channel when its in aux mode.

    Is aux input really necessary when there is the USB option? My answer is yes. Playing the same music (lossless) from USB goes through the head unit. Playing the same music (lossless) directly through the aux is better in my system.

    Lastly, I did not even bother to replace or amplify the rear door speakers. Back to my earlier statement, I find car audio to be best when its in stereo with an added sub. Playing music from behind me on the floor will not improve the listening experience. I can still use the fader on the HU when my kids are in the car and play music in the back, just not in aux mode.

    I paid for:

    NVX custom Tesla 10” sub w/ 600 watt NVX amp, audiocontrol LC2i line out converter $950

    Hertz HSK 165 component speakers $280

    AudioControl LC8i $170

    NVX JAD 800.4 $200

    4 gauge install kit $50

    Install: $750

    If I did it again I would do the following:

    NVX Tesla 10” sub enclosure only $550

    NVX JAD 800.4 $200

    Audiocontrol LC8i $170

    4 gauge install kit $50

    Install: $650
     

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  2. clostridium

    clostridium Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2017
    Messages:
    309
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    Thanks for sharing all of this - I've got a few questions because I want to take a similar route to upgrade my audio. I apologize that my knowledge of car audio is not great so the questions may seem basic.

    • Where did you end up putting the actual aux input port?
    • How is the sound quality with your iPhone going through the aux vs. going through the Bluetooth? I know it should be better I'm just curious how much of a difference it makes.
    • With this setup does the HU equalizer still control the sound for the aux input and for the bluetooth/radio/streaming services? (other than the level for the subwoofer of course) - I'm guessing that it doesn't impact the aux input since that's now going direct to amps but wanted to verify I understood this correctly.
    • Can you leave it set to use the aux input as a default so you just have to plug your phone in and go or do you have to select it each time you start the car?
    • What sort of cable are you using for the aux input - just the lightning to headphone adaptor and then a splitter to get L and R channels to go to the LC8i or something else - and if so, do you have a lightning splitter to allow charging and audio output at the same time?
    • Is there a downside to adding the rear door speakers and the other speakers left over to the new amp too? I know you said the fronts matter the most but isn't there still an advantage to using the better amp?
    Craig
     
  3. dennis_d

    dennis_d Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2017
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    Location:
    CA
    Is it possible to give links to products you used?
     
  4. Flyguy

    Flyguy Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2017
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    94062
    Hi Craig,

    All questions welcome and Just to clarify, I am no audio expert!

    • Where did you end up putting the actual aux input port?
    Currently its coming out between a seam in the center console, I'll probably re-route it when I have time so that it comes out where the cup holders are. that way I can tuck it away and close the slider.

    • How is the sound quality with your iPhone going through the aux vs. going through the Bluetooth? I know it should be better I'm just curious how much of a difference it makes.
    The difference is very noticeable. When its connected through Bluetooth its also going through the stock head unit, then the high level speaker signal gets converted to a line level signal and sent to the amp. To me, music sounds cleaner and more accurate. The high end treble, lyrics etc., often get pretty shrill, especially at higher volume. I don't have these issues via aux input.
    • With this setup does the HU equalizer still control the sound for the aux input and for the bluetooth/radio/streaming services? (other than the level for the subwoofer of course) - I'm guessing that it doesn't impact the aux input since that's now going direct to amps but wanted to verify I understood this correctly.
    Yes, you understand correctly. There is no processing from the HU when using aux input. It doesn't make sense that a direct line in with no equalization (other than the equalizers in my phone) would sound better, but it does. I was tempted to also add a digital equalizer/processor but figured I would start with this setup and see how it went. I have though spent some time adjusting the levels on the LC8i and the amps, for example I have the lo-pass filter active on the amp in front so the Hertz 6.5's don't get a full range signal, it cuts off at about 50hz which is where the sub starts to take over which seems to leave the sound less muddied.
    • Can you leave it set to use the aux input as a default so you just have to plug your phone in and go or do you have to select it each time you start the car?
    not sure, I'll have to check
    • What sort of cable are you using for the aux input - just the lightning to headphone adaptor and then a splitter to get L and R channels to go to the LC8i or something else - and if so, do you have a lightning splitter to allow charging and audio output at the same time?
    again you are correct, L/R RCA into 3.5mm headphone into lightning adaptor. No, it does not charge.
    • Is there a downside to adding the rear door speakers and the other speakers left over to the new amp too? I know you said the fronts matter the most but isn't there still an advantage to using the better amp?
    No downside except that would be a lot of amp for those stock speakers. I think the stock speakers are 2 ohm, the NVX class D amp would put out about 200 watts at 2 ohms. you could upgrade the rear speakers at the same time would be pretty easy. The only downside I could think of is you would not be able to fade in aux mode. you could still fade when using the HU for radio/ USB assuming the installer used the rear speaker output for these channels and not the fronts. the LC8i can take up to 8 channels so no issues there.

    Let me know if anything else comes up
     
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  5. Flyguy

    Flyguy Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2017
    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    94062
    you can search for all these items at sonic electronix. I had a great experienced with them, the first sub/enclosure came and the sub had ripped away from the enclosure. I emailed them and they had a new one shipped to me before they even received the broken one back. All the prices I listed can obviously vary depending on what sale is happening.
     

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